Our immigration system is geared to people with money, people with specific needed skills, and their families. There's no place for those who have business skills, marketable ideas and financial backing - in other words, the ability to create jobs - but who lack specific credentials or money of their own. A new visa for immigrant entrepreneurs should be part of the federal government's reform of immigrant selection practices in Canada.
The visa could be granted to immigrants with a business plan for a new enterprise that has significant outside financial support: say, $250,000 in pledged capital. Just as immigrant sponsors are asked to financially backstop new applicants, the people fronting the capital could make the same commitment. Effective safeguards would have to be put in place to ensure the system is not abused by scam artists looking for a place to park capital while bringing people who don't fit the entrepreneur profile to Canada.
Those concerned about accelerating a brain drain out of developing countries should celebrate such a visa - entrepreneurs are especially skilled at creating the connections back to emerging markets that are so essential for international trade. Comparable legislation has already been tabled in the United States, but implementing a start-up visa soon would give Canada a leg up. It's time to expand our vision, and let the visionaries in.
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